Friday, 31 May 2019


5 Dictionary and Vocabulary Apps to Learn New Words
By Mihir Patkar,
Make Use Of, 28 May 2019.

Improving your vocabulary will enhance your communication, which is an essential skill for progressing in any part of your life. Whether you want to look up the meaning of words or learn new ones, these apps are must-haves for English speakers.

For Android users, we have found arguably the best dictionary app. The iPhone already comes with a dictionary, so there’s not much need for that. There are some excellent reference apps for smartphones which you can use offline as well as online, so check those out too.

1. Word of the Hour: Hourly Words, With Translations

Word of the Hour (Web, Android, iOS, Chrome) is a Reddit community dedicated to helping you learn new words in your quest to expand your vocabulary. The app updates every hour with a new word and its meaning, and its usage in a sentence.

Word of the Hour also has translations in more than 10 languages. Currently, the app supports Assamese, Bengali, Catalan, Esperanto, French, Galician, German, Hindi, Italian, Kazakh, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Welsh. Some languages also get example sentences.

The app has support on a variety of platforms, ensuring you get that update no matter what you are using. This includes mobile apps for Android and iOS, experimental desktop programs, a Chrome extension, and even a Slack bot.

If you’re serious about adding new entries to your mental dictionary, this is the app to install.

Download: Word of the Hour for Android | iOS (Free)
Download: Word of the Hour for Chrome (Free)

2. Aard 2: Offline Dictionary, Wikipedia, and More

Aard 2 (Android) is arguably the best offline dictionary or reference app for Android. It’s an all-in-one tool for multiple dictionaries as well as an offline Wikipedia reader.

Think of Aard 2 as an offline client. You can customize that client by adding different dictionaries as databases. Aard’s list of dictionaries has official download links for various sources such as WordNet, FreeDict, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Uncyclopedia, The Collaborative International Dictionary of English, and more. Download any to your phone, refresh Aard 2 to find it on your handset, and you’re good to go.

Similarly, Aard 2 also lets you add the Wikipedia knowledge database as well. So in one client, you can get a word’s meaning from different sources, as well as what Wikipedia has to say about it. Cool, right?

Aard 2 is completely free. The design is a little old-fashioned, but given how much you get in one client, it’s worth it. The only pain point is that the dictionaries don’t auto-update with new entries, so you’ll have to periodically re-download them.

Download: Aard 2 for Android (Free)

3. Treegle: Tree-Like Dictionary for More Words

Treegle (Web) is a new take on the traditional dictionary, which actually seems like the logical way to do dictionaries. See, when you visit most of the popular dictionary apps, you will get a definition of the word you’re looking up. But if the definition itself has words that you don’t understand, then you have to look that up, and then go back to your original reference. It’s a messy way to learn.

Treegle turns the dictionary into a tree-like system. So your original word and its meaning come first. Then you can click on any word in the meaning, and it will branch out into a meaning of that word alone. You can again click on any word in the new meaning, or in the original meaning, for further branches.

The end result is a tree of different words and meanings, but this time you are sure what the definition exactly means. Treegle isn’t as information-packed as dictionaries like Oxford or Merriam-Webster, but it seems like the more organic way to look up words.

4. Word Chain: Make and Learn Longest Words

Word Chain (Android, iOS) is a single play or multiplayer mobile game with a focus on learning new words. The rules are simple. Taking turns, you are randomly assigned a letter of the alphabet at the start of each round. Make the longest word you can with it.

It follows some rules of games like Scrabble, in that you can’t use “s” to turn the word into a plural and increase the letter count. There’s a limited time to make your word and type it out, so you’ll have to think of something quickly. Each letter counts as one point. The first to reach the target score wins.

At the end of each game, you will get a full list of all the words used in the game, and their meanings and pronunciations. It’s a nice way to test your own vocabulary while learning new words alongside. And periodically, Word Chain sends notifications with new words and definitions.

Download: Word Chain for Android | iOS (Free)

5. Eunoia: Foreign Words Without English Equivalents

English doesn’t have words to describe every single thing in the universe. But there are phrases and terms in other languages that describe some things perfectly, and there is no equivalent in English. Welcome to Eunoia (Web), the searchable directory of words that don’t translate.

Eunoia has a database of over 500 words in over 50 languages, which don’t have perfect English translations. Sample some of these:
  • Eunoia: (Greek) A well-mind or beautiful thinking
  • Kretek: (Malay) The sound of dry leaves or twigs being trodden underfoot
  • Fahrvergn├╝gen: (German): The love of simply driving
  • Chai-Pani: (Hindi) Literally “tea and water”; but used to mean the money and favors given to someone to get things done
Eunoia is full of these experiences and things that can’t easily be put into a single word in English. But the English language has a history of adopting words from other languages. So why should any of these be any different?

Improving English Beyond Vocabulary

A good vocabulary is simply one part of mastering a language. If you want to enjoy its full potential, you need to learn other aspects like grammar and syntax, figures of speech, proverbs, phrases, and much more.

While you should continue your quest to learn new words with the aforementioned apps, the English language demands more of you. You might want to try some of the best mobile apps to learn and improve English.

Top image: Dictionary. Credit: stevepb/Pixabay.

[Source: Make Use Of. Top image added.]


10 Ways Your Smartphone Is Ruining Your Life
By John Bishop,
Listverse, 30 May 2019.

The smartphone. Everyone has one these days. Most can’t live without these devices. Too bad that we all seem to love them a little bit too much. As we’ve discussed previously, it’s almost like we’re living in the middle of a smartphone zombie plague.

If it was an option and we didn’t discard our phones every other year, we might just marry them. Why is it that we all use them so much, yet are so oblivious to the harm they can cause in our lives?

10. When’s The Last Time You Had A Good Night’s Sleep?

How many times have you gone to bed, only to grab your phone and start checking the news, emails, or social media? Or maybe you want to take one last hit of that addictive game you found the other day?

All those apps are stealing sleep from us. When we go to bed, our phones should as well. But that never happens. As we lie there, we hear the sweet siren call of that little unassuming device. Before we know it, our smartphones are back in control and entertaining us with information.

That’s not all a smartphone does, though. No, it needs more than just information. It needs a way to influence us and push back the tiredness and the night. By shining just a little blue light from its screen, it can suppress melatonin and stimulate our brains. Now we don’t feel tired anymore and can pay more attention to our phones.

With all that additional focus, we can really get into that game and get some adrenaline flowing through our systems. Or we can read through those emails and feel the stress from our colleagues telling us just what new nightmares are headed our way at work tomorrow.

Even when we’re done with our phones, all that adrenaline or stress makes our minds too busy to think about sleep. So we lie in bed bored. Eventually, the boredom is too much so we go back to our smartphones. Before long, it’s time to get up and start another day.

9. Loved Ones Don’t Want To Compete For Our Attention

It’s known as phubbing. Focusing on our smartphones instead of engaging romantically with our loved ones is a big problem. Our smartphones were supposed to bring people together and make the world more connected.

But sometimes, it may bring the wrong people together at the wrong time. While we are busy connecting to coworkers, friends on the other side of the world, or that unknown opponent we are currently crushing, we are distant from the people in the same room with us.

When our loved ones want to connect with us but can’t pull us away from our phones, they’re not happy. If we cannot give the people in our relationships the time and attention they deserve, they are rightfully discontented. Everyone’s relationship satisfaction suffers, and our loved ones will often feel jealous of our smartphones.

If so, our relationships will not be strong. Furthermore, if we can’t pry ourselves away from our phones long enough to notice and fix these problems, how can our human relationships survive? Before we know it, our relationships with our smartphones will be the only meaningful ones we have left.

8. We Can’t Actually Talk To Someone These Days

Long ago, people would interact with each other through face-to-face communication. With the intimacy and bonds produced by that type of social contact, people were able to connect with each other and build strong relationships.

Over time, technology has become a middleman in our conversations, whether through emails, text messages, self-checkout machines, or social media. In so many situations, people don’t directly communicate with each other anymore.

The use of smartphones has been linked to loneliness and shyness in individuals. It’s tough when you are lonely and crave interactions with others, yet you are too shy to actually go out and make those contacts. A study of 414 university students in China showed that the more lonely and shy a person was, the more likely he was to be addicted to his smartphone.

7. The Joneses Aren’t Just The People On Our Street Anymore

Photo credit:

Ever been on social media? Ever seen all the beautiful, picture-perfect moments that people post? All the places they visit and cool toys that they buy?

There’s an old saying about the need to keep up with the Joneses - traditionally those in our neighborhoods whom we use as a benchmark for the social class we want to maintain.

The Joneses have a shiny, new luxury car? What will people think about my 10-year-old sedan with a bit of rust creeping up the door? They are having an elaborate party for their child complete with bouncy castle? How do I make sure that my kid doesn’t see me as a failure at his next party if I can’t afford that?

Unfortunately, smartphones and the Internet have greatly expanded our neighborhoods. Instead of just looking at our neighbors every time we leave or come home, our smartphones are letting us peer into the lives of hundreds of “friends” all around the world.

Every time we unlock our phones, we are greeted with new posts showing all the amazing things happening to people around the world. Then we look up and see that our reality doesn’t match what’s on the phone. Unfortunately, this leads to debt, stress, and depression when we believe that we can’t keep up with everyone else.


Along with keeping up with the Joneses is FOMO (“fear of missing out”). This is when we see people doing or getting something new or exciting. It electrifies us, and we want to get in there with everyone. There’s a fear that if we don’t do it now, the opportunity will be gone.

This concern can lead us to make impulse purchases and accept debt just so we are included in the experience of having this shiny new thing. These days, digital technology through smartphones constantly shows us shiny new objects that we can be a part of. The people and companies making these things are mastering how to foster the feeling of FOMO and make their products or services viral.

All of this can lead to reckless spending on unnecessary things. Then we feel depressed when we see the next shiny thing but realize we can no longer borrow enough money to grab it.

5. It’s Becoming The Most Expensive Member Of Our Household

Remember the days when you’d walk into a cell phone store, sign up for basic talk and text service, and get a free phone? Those days seem long gone. Now it’s all about talking us into the latest gadget that we can’t live without and that we’ll be upgrading in a year.

Smartphones cost us so much money. On average, a smartphone in North America is $567. Just for the phone. Don’t forget that we need a nice case to protect the phone, insurance if the case fails us, chargers everywhere, and paid apps to make those phones even more useful.

Phones increase in price at a rate of about 12 percent a year. In 2008, the iPhone sold for $499 and, in late 2018, the XS Max sold for $1,099. If prices continue to trend in that direction, we could be looking at spending over $5,000 for an iPhone 20 years from now.

Now let’s talk service. That basic talk and text package we used to enjoy years ago just won’t cut it now. Now we need unlimited data, too. All those apps we buy are data hungry. We generally spend around $80 a month for that.

4. Do We Even Remember Facts Anymore?

How many times has this happened to you: You’re with a group of people, and someone asks a question. No one knows the answer, so everyone whips out their smartphones to see who can find the answer first. Someone yells it out, gets the kudos for the best Google skills of the moment, and everyone moves on. Within minutes, everyone is on a different topic and is completely forgetting the answer to the earlier question.

In the past, getting answers was work. We needed to find and schedule time with an expert, go to the library and read a book, or experiment and figure it out for ourselves. All this work left a lasting impression on our minds and made the answer hard to forget. These days, information is so easily obtained that finding it is no longer an adventure.

Where we used to rely on ourselves and those with whom we have relationships to remember things, we now have our smartphones with Internet access to handle it for us.

What happens, though, when we are separated from our smartphones and they are not there to assist us when we need the information?

3. Can We Read A Map Or Drive Anywhere From Memory?

Photo credit:

When some of us need to travel to a place we’ve never been or somewhere we don’t go often, our first step is to pull out our smartphones to get turn-by-turn directions. Long gone are the days of building a mental map from past experience and learning to find places through our own sense of direction. Even longer gone are the days of opening a paper map to draw a route to where we want to go.

Learning new routes and how to navigate on our own builds spatial maps in our brains. We understand the distances between places, where they are in relation to each other, and how to move from one place to another. We gain the ability to look at the world around us and actively plan our movements.

Unfortunately, with turn-by-turn directions always available through our smartphones, these spatial maps are often not well-built. We are focused on our phones instead of interpreting the world around us. Since we know that the directions will always be available to us in the future, we are far less likely to remember them on our own.

2. We Really Can Be Afraid Of Losing Access To Our Phones

Nomophobia is the fear of losing access to our smartphones whether through dead batteries, loss of signal, or loss of the entire phone itself. Research revealed four main sources that feed this fear: inability to communicate, lost connectedness, loss of access to information, and lost convenience.

Basically, we’re addicted. Our phones provide us with access to loved ones and answers to all our questions. These devices also remove so many roadblocks any time we want. Losing those capabilities leads to fears. We are all on our own.

It’s becoming serious. Thirty-eight percent of surveyed American teenagers said they didn’t think they could live one day without their smartphones. Seventy-one percent said the same about a week.

1. We Just Don’t Have Time To Get Anything Done Anymore

Do you ever feel like you just don’t have time anymore? Like the world has become so busy that it’s hard to keep up? How much do you use your smartphone?

We are all fairly attached to our smartphones. Those little devices are good at snatching our attention, making sure they are never far from us, and keeping us coming back often for any updates they might offer.

Perhaps our struggles with and management of time all start with our smartphones. Constantly getting all those little updates from our phones and then waiting and hoping for the next update releases a bit of dopamine in our brains. This makes us happy and excited and also keeps us coming back for more.

Looking for those hits of dopamine, we end up spending more time than we realize on our phones when we could be taking care of all those other things we never seem to have time for.

Top image: Phubbing. Credit: roberto sanchez/Flickr.

[Source: Listverse. Top image added.]

Tuesday, 28 May 2019


10 Things to Know About Visiting Mars
By Jocelyne LeBlanc,
Toptenz, 25 May 2019.

Space travel has made exceptional progress over the years. It was only in July 1969 that man first walked on the moon, and now just 50 years later there are plans to send humans to Mars in the not-so-distant future. According to NASA, they plan to send humans to Mars by the year 2033.

There have been several spacecrafts that have landed on Mars - the United States has successfully landed eight on the Red Planet, including Opportunity and InSight. While the spacecrafts have conducted exceptional research on the planet, it’s not the same as having humans exploring the area.

Although it’s exciting to think about humans landing on Mars, they will encounter numerous problems during their exploration of our planetary neighbor. From long-lasting dust storms and exceptionally high radiation levels, to worrying about their food supply and their overall health, they will have several obstacles to overcome - not to mention to extremely long trip there and back. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most challenging obstacles the astronauts will face on their journey.

10. Mars May Still Be Volcanically Active

In a new study, it appears as though Mars may still be volcanically active. Located under solid ice at the South Pole, there is a lake of liquid water measuring 20 kilometers wide. While it was originally thought that the water stayed in liquid format because of dissolved salt as well as pressure from above the lake, new research provides a much different theory.

The new study concluded that the salt and pressure couldn’t have stopped the water from becoming frozen and that volcanic activity (more specifically a magma chamber that was created in the previous few hundred years) was the only way that it could have remained in liquid format.

Mars was definitely volcanically active in the past, as Olympus Mons is the biggest volcano in our entire solar system. Located near Olympus Mons are three other shield volcanoes called Tharsis Montes, and there are several more volcanoes on the Red Planet.

According to the study, magma from the planet’s interior came up to the surface around 300,000 years ago. Instead of breaking through the surface of the planet and creating a new volcano, it remained in a magma chamber located beneath the South Pole. When the magma chamber cooled down, it would have released a sufficient amount of heat in order to melt the water underneath the polar ice sheet. They believe that the heat is still being slowly released even to this day. The authors of the study suggest that if there was volcanic activity 300,000 years ago, there is a definite possibility that it’s still active today which could cause an issue for eventual visitors to the planet.

9. Scarce Food Sources

Astronauts need to eat and growing food on Mars would be a very difficult task. In fact, it would take several hundred years before farming could be conducted without protective greenhouses since the soil there contains perchlorates, which are harsh chemicals that would need to be removed before any plants could be grown.

In addition to the chemicals, gravity would also pose a problem as the planet only has around one-third of the gravity that’s here on Earth. Although some experiments have proved some plants can grow in the microgravity located on the International Space Station, that doesn’t mean that they’ll grow on Mars.

There is some hope, as revealed in a 2014 study that tomatoes, wheat, cress and mustard leaves were able to grow in simulated Martian soil without fertilizers for 50 days. But transforming Mars into a planet capable of growing plants would take hundreds of years for its thin atmosphere to contain enough oxygen.

Let’s say, for example, that humans could quickly transform the atmosphere in order to grow plants, the winters pose another huge problem as the temperatures can dip as low as -207 degrees Fahrenheit.

8. They’d Have To Wear Permanent Space Suits

Astronauts visiting Mars would have to wear permanent space suits during their trip as the planet is not suitable for humans. The suits would have to be flexible enough for the astronauts to work with construction materials as well as for using different machines. Plus, they have to be comfortable enough for them to essentially live in.

As for the atmosphere there, it’s comparable to being at an altitude of 25 kilometers on Earth, which means that the air would be much too thin for humans to breathe. In addition to the thin air, there is way too much carbon dioxide and not enough oxygen. And since the winter temperatures can get as low as -207 degrees Fahrenheit, the astronauts need warm space suits to keep their blood circulating throughout their bodies. These spacesuits will be their life-line, so they need to be made perfectly for the astronauts to survive their exploration trip to our planetary neighbor.

7. Creating A Human Civilization May Not Be So Easy

Obviously, the astronauts exploring the Red Planet wouldn’t be there to create Martian families, but there is much talk about one day humans colonizing there permanently. That may not be as easy as it sounds. Just the lack of gravitational pull and the high amount of radiation are enough to severely damage a fetus. While there have been several experiments involving mice, rats, frogs, salamanders, fish, and plants to see if they could successfully reproduce in space, results have been inconclusive.

While mice and humans are obviously different, based on the experiments conducted, as of right now it’s not looking good for humans to successfully reproduce on Mars.

6. Landing And Returning

Landing on Mars will not be a smooth ride. For example, when NASA’s InSight spacecraft entered into the atmosphere on Mars, it was moving at a whopping 12,300 MPH. While it was descending through the atmosphere, it had to slow down to just 5 MPH before landing on the surface. The deceleration happened in less than seven minutes, which NASA engineers referred to as “seven minutes of terror.”

Since we know how to land on the Red Planet - although it will most likely be one rough landing - leaving Mars may not be so easy. The Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) will be powered by liquid oxygen and methane, with all of the ingredients (hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen) being available on Mars. The atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, so that would be relatively easy to get; however, drilling for water would be much more challenging as they wouldn’t be 100% certain that water lies underneath them. Assuming they would get the necessary ingredients for the fuel, taking off from the harsh environment and atmosphere on Mars may not be an easy lift-off.

5. Long-Lasting Dust Storms

Mars is definitely known for their massive dust storms - some of which are so huge that they can be seen from Earth-bound telescopes. As a matter of fact, some dust storms cover the same area as an entire continent, lasting for several weeks. And approximately every three Mars years (or five and a half Earth years), a gigantic dust storm covers the entire Red Planet which are known as “global dust storms.” The good thing about the dust storms is that the strongest winds only reach approximately 60 miles per hour, so it’s very unlikely that they would damage any spacecrafts.

On the other hand, the small dust particles tend to stick to surfaces and even mechanical gears. One specific problem would be the solar panels and if enough dust would cover them, they wouldn’t be able to absorb as much sunlight in order to get the energy to power the equipment.

4. Extremely Rough Terrain And Chilling Weather

The very rough and rocky terrain on Mars could cause problems for the spacecraft as well as the astronauts who are trying to walk around on the surface. The planet is covered with rocks, canyons, volcanoes, craters, and dry lake beds, as well as red dust covering the majority of the surface. The Curiosity rover experienced such problems when, in 2013, it came upon an area with sharp rocks that looked similar to spikes. The sharp rocks - that looked like 3 to 4 inch teeth from a shark - were most likely created by the wind. These sharp rocks could dent and even puncture wheels, not to mention how impossible they’d be to walk on.

Astronauts visiting the Red Planet will certainly not be accustomed to its extremely freezing cold temperatures. The average temperature on the planet is a frigid -80 degrees Fahrenheit and can get as low as -207 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter. They would need special spacesuits that would keep them warm from the chilling temperatures.

3. High Levels Of Radiation And Very Little Gravity

Since Mars has a much thinner atmosphere than Earth, humans visiting the Red Planet will have very little protection against the high levels of radiation. In fact, they have to worry about two dangerous sources of radiation. The first are the dangerous solar flares that come from our sun, for which they’ll need proper protection. The second are particles from galactic cosmic rays that pass through the solar system almost at the speed of light and can damage anything they hit, such as the spacecraft or even the astronauts themselves. The spacesuits, as well as the spacecrafts, will need to be made from materials that will shield them from the high levels of radiation.

Another major problem is that the gravity on Mars is only a fraction of what it is on Earth. In fact, the gravity on the Red Planet is 62% lower than it is here on our planet. To better understand, if a person weighs 220 pounds on Earth, they would weigh just 84 pounds on Mars. There are several factors that contribute to its lower gravity, such as density, mass, and radius of the planet. While both planets have nearly the same land surface, Mars has just 15% of our planet’s volume and only 11% of our mass.

While it’s still uncertain what long-term effects the change in gravity would have on the astronauts’ health, research indicates that the effects of microgravity would cause loss of bone density, muscle mass, organ function, and eyesight.

2. The Long Journey To Mars

Before the astronauts even get to Mars, they would have to endure an exceptionally long journey just to get there. As for how long the trip would actually take, there are several factors to take into consideration, such as where the planets are positioned in the solar system at the time of the launch, since the distance between them is always changing as they go around the sun.

While the average distance between Mars and Earth is 140 million miles, they do get much closer to each other depending on their position around the sun. The two planets would be closest to each other when Mars is located at its closest position to the sun and the Earth is at its farthest position. At that point, the two planets would be 33.9 million miles away from each other. When the planets are located on opposite sides of the sun, they are at a distance of 250 million miles from each other.

According to NASA, the ideal launch to Mars would take approximately nine months. And that’s just how long it would take to get there. It would take another nine months or so to return back to Earth, along with however long they end up staying on the Red Planet.

1. Mental And Physical Health Issues

In addition to the rough terrain, freezing temperatures, and dust storms, astronauts would also have to worry about the mental and physical health issues that they could develop. The process of going from two highly different gravitational fields would affect their spatial orientation, balance, mobility, motion sickness, hand-eye and head-eye coordination.

Being confined to a small space on an unpopulated planet away from family and friends for several months or years would be mentally hard on them. They could develop a drop in their mood, morale, cognition, or a decline in their daily interactions (misunderstandings and impaired communication). In addition, they could develop sleep disorders, fatigue, or even depression.

Being in an enclosed area makes it very easy for one person to transfer germs to the others, which could cause illnesses, allergies, or diseases.

The biggest health factor is the high levels of radiation on Mars, which could increase their chances of developing cancer. Radiation can damage their central nervous system, causing changes to their cognitive function, their behavior, and reducing their motor function. It could also cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and anorexia. Cardiac and circulatory diseases, as well as cataracts, could additionally develop.

Top image: Red dust of Mars. Credit: AlexAntropov86/Pixabay.

[Source: Toptenz. Top image added.]


Computers are getting a massive upgrade thanks to quantum physics. This upgrade is called quantum computing. So what are quantum computers? How do they work? And what do they mean for the future? This video by ColdFusion takes a look at quantum computers and the promise they hold for the future.

Top image: Screenshot from the video.

[Source: ColdFusion/YouTube.]

Monday, 27 May 2019


10 spectacular images from NASA's Spitzer telescope
By Katherine Butler,
Mother Nature Network, 24 May 2019.

NASA calls Lyman Spitzer Jr. (1914-1997) one of the 20th century's greatest scientists. The longtime Princeton astrophysicist lobbied for a large space telescope as early as 1946, work that culminated in the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990. After Spitzer's death in 1997, NASA continued to develop the Great Observatories Program, a group of four space-based telescopes each observing the universe in a different kind of light. Besides Hubble, the other telescopes include Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (CXO). The final telescope was launched in 2003, consisting of "a large telescope and three cryogenically cooled instruments capable of studying the universe at near-to-far infrared wavelengths." NASA named this new space-flyer the Spitzer Space Telescope in honor of the visionary scientist. As this revolutionary telescope now approaches retirement - scheduled for Jan. 30, 2020 - here's a look at some of the incredible views it has given us over the years.

1. Coronet cluster in X-ray and infrared

The Spitzer telescope is designed to detect infrared radiation, which is primarily heat radiation, according to NASA. The telescope has two major compartments: the Cryogenic Telescope Assembly, which is home to the 85-centimeter telescope and three space instruments; and the spacecraft that controls the telescope, powers the instruments, and processes the scientific data for Earth. The result is magnificent pictures, such as the one here of the Corona Australis region, considered "one of the nearest and most active regions of ongoing star formation...[showing] the Coronet in X-rays from Chandra (purple) and infrared from Spitzer (orange, green, and cyan)."

2. Spectacular sombrero

Because Spitzer's instruments are so sensitive, it can see objects that optical telescopes cannot, such as exoplanets, failed stars and giant molecule clouds. "Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes joined forces to create this striking composite image of one of the most popular sights in the universe," says NASA. The Sombrero Galaxy, named after its resemblance to the Mexican hat, is 28 million light-years away from Earth. At the center of this galaxy, a black hole is believed to exist that is 1 billion times larger than our sun.

3. New view of the great nebula in Carina

The Spitzer Space Telescope was launched in 2003. Hopes were that the mission could extend beyond five years, but in May 2009, the onboard supply of helium ran out. As a result, without helium to cool its instruments, the space telescope transitioned into its "warm" mission. Here Spitzer has photographed the Carina Nebula, which contains a star that is 100 times as massive and a million times as bright as our sun.

4. Chaos at the heart of Orion

When Spitzer was fully functional, it had to be simultaneously warm and cool to function. "Everything in the Cryogenic Telescope Assembly must be cooled only a few degrees above absolute zero," according to NASA. "This is achieved with an onboard tank of liquid helium or cryogen. Meanwhile, electronic equipment in the Spacecraft portion needs to operate at room temperature." Here, the Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes combine to show the chaos of baby stars some 1,500 light-years away in the Orion nebula. The orange dots are infant stars. Hubble shows less embedded stars as specks of green, and foreground stars as blue spots.

5. Spitzer's Sunflower

Messier 63 is also known as the Sunflower Galaxy, shown in all its infrared glory by Spitzer. As NASA explains, "Infrared light is sensitive to the dust lanes in spiral galaxies, which appear dark in visible-light images. Spitzer's view reveals complex structures that trace the galaxy's spiral arm pattern." Messier 63 is known to be 37 million light-years away. It is also 100,000 light-years across, which is about the size of our own Milky Way. Despite the amazing power of the images it captures, the Spitzer Space Telescope itself is rather small. It stands 13 feet (4 meters) tall and weighs about 1,906 pounds (865 kilograms).

6. Stars gather in downtown Milky Way

Spitzer operates in a heliocentric, Earth-trailing orbit. (As experts point out, this system helped prolong the longevity of the coolant because cryogen is used to take up the power dissipated by the detector arrays, rather than lost to heat loads.) Pictured here is the bright central star cluster of our Milky Way galaxy. Because of Spitzer's infrared abilities, we are able to view the group of stars as never before. This area is gigantic. According to NASA, "The region pictured here is immense, with a horizontal span of 2,400 light-years (5.3 degrees) and a vertical span of 1,360 light-years (3 degrees)."

7. Bright light, green city

This greenish mist gets its color through Spitzer's color-coding abilities. The fog is comprised of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which NASA says are "found right here on Earth in sooty vehicle exhaust and on charred grills." Spitzer allows the human eye to see PAHs glow via infrared light. This image was compiled after Spitzer's helium ran out, marking the beginning of its "warm" mission. You can follow Spitzer’s path here.

8. Spitzer reveals stellar family tree

Ever wonder what a family tree of stars might look like? Spitzer gives us a glimpse of cosmic generations through images of W5, the star-forming region. According to NASA, "the oldest stars can be seen as blue dots in the centers of the two hollow cavities (other blue dots are background and foreground stars not associated with the region). Younger stars line the rims of the cavities, and some can be seen as dots at the tips of the elephant-trunk-like pillars. The white knotty areas are where the youngest stars are forming."

9. Cartwheel galaxy makes waves

The Cartwheel galaxy, which is found in the constellation Sculptor in the Southern Hemisphere below Pisces and Cetus, resulted from a 200-million-year-old collision between two galaxies. This image is the result of NASA's many instruments: the Galaxy Evolution Explorer's Far Ultraviolet detector (blue), the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera-2 in B-band visible light (green), the Spitzer Space Telescope's Infrared Array Camera (red) and the Chandra X-ray Observatory's Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer-S array instrument (purple).

10. Spitzer's legacy

Pictured here is a composite image of the Large Magellanic Cloud as seen by Spitzer and the Chandra X-ray. Ultimately, the $670 million Spitzer telescope has given us a glimpse of the building blocks of life. John Bahcall - who chaired a panel at the Institute for Advanced Study - told CBS News at Spitzer’s launch in 2003, "With the help of the Spitzer Space Telescope, we can see things that human beings couldn't see before. We can watch stars being born, we can see planets form, we can observe galaxies shrouded in dust, we can look to the edge of the visible universe." And it seems, through the ingenuity of the creators of the Spitzer Space Telescope, we have done just that.

Top image: Spitzer and Hubble View of the Sombrero Galaxy (left) and Chaos at the Heart of Orion (right). Credits: Left: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Kennicutt (University of Arizona) and the SINGS Team; Right: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI.